Services value-added now accounts for almost half of all world trade. But costs of trading services are twice as high as trade costs for goods. This is partly due to regulatory divergence, as well as opaque regulations and cumbersome procedures.
A large group of WTO members have jointly initiated negotiations to address these cost factors by developing disciplines on services domestic regulation.
If adopted by WTO Ministers in 2021, these disciplines will be the first and only outcome on services since the conclusion of negotiations on telecom and financial services in 1998. OECD estimates for the APEC region suggest this could cut services trade costs by an average of 8% across all services sectors.
Jane Drake-Brockman, Industry Professor, Institute for International Trade, University of Adelaide
Markus Jelitto, Counsellor, Trade in Services and Investment Division, WTO Secretariat, Geneva